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streetlightreader

The Streetlight Reader

Just another 23 year old from Toronto who enjoys reading Adult fiction, YA Fiction and Non-Fiction. Okay I read anything I think is worth reading :).

"For books are more than books, they are the life, the very heart and core of ages past, the reason why men worked and died, the essence and quintessence of their lives."

Marcus Tullius Cicero

Book Review: Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani

Children of the Jacaranda Tree: A Novel - Sahar Delijani

Cover Gushing Worthiness: The cover of Children of the Jacaranda Tree is one of the most beautiful covers of the year for me. It reminded me of the cover from Julie Wu’sThe Third Son .I love how the Jacaranda Tree is the focal point while the city is faded in the background.

 

Review: 

 

"We all have a tree inside us. Finding it is just a matter of time."
I first heard about this book from Jamie over at The Perpetual Page-Turner and I was thrilled when I got approved by Netgalley to read an ARC of it. Most of you who are regular visitors to my blog know about my background in Middle Eastern and East Asian History. I’m always interested in reading books about Iran because nobody seems to know a lot about the country. Plus this is the first book I've read which addresses the political situation in post-revolutionary Iran.

One of the first things I should point out is that if you're planning on reading this book for a plot, then you will be disappointed because there isn't one. Instead Children of the Jacaranda Tree focuses on two generations of Iranians: those who were political activists once Ayatollah Khomeini assumed power and their children. These individuals are scattered across America, Germany, Italy and Iran. The lives of all these people intertwine at some point within each person’s story, but there is no end game. It’s about shedding light on events that many people, especially people from my generation are unfamiliar with.

Children of the Jacaranda Tree jumps back and forth between the times of the Iran and Iraq war, the 2009 Green Revolution and 2011. Because there are so many alternating perspectives and time shifts it was difficult to keep track of which character was which and what was their relationship to A, B or C. But the more I think about it, maybe it wasn't so much about remember the character specifically. Maybe it was about remembering and appreciating the experience of those who went to prison or were executed because they wanted to ensure their generation and future generations would have the freedom they so desperately craved, wanted and deserved. That’s what I came away with in the end.

This book is eye-opening and heart wrenching at the same time. It’s not just heart-wrenching because of the experiences of characters, it’s also about the strained relationships between family,spouses, children and friends. For the younger generation it’s about trying to and coming to terms with their parents’ experiences, but also respecting and understanding the experiences of their comrades who participated in the 2009 Green Revolution movement. I think what struck me the most was the stories of the younger generation. It was interesting for me to see the men and women who now lived in the States, Germany and Italy come to Iran and interact with Iranians. It was almost as if it was a foreign concept to them and they didn’t know how to behave. Furthermore there were those people saw those coming from abroad as foreigners who didn’t really know what was going on in Iran and how do they have any right to make any opinions. I think I was glued to this aspect of the story so much because I've been there, I know what its like to live in the west and go back to your country of origin only for people to think you're ‘westernized’ and haven’t got a clue on how that part of the world functions. As much as you can feel angry for such judgments, it’s normal and I appreciated Delijani addressing the difficulties for both parties to understand each other’s experiences. One paragraph that stood out for me was when Donya, an Iranian American visiting said in regards to the Green revolution

"They might have identified us, but we also identified with each other. She feels a bit shy saying ‘us’ when she was not here, when she only watched everything on the news, thousands of miles away."


I thought those were powerful sentences in their simplicity. How we can feel connected to something that is happening across the world, even without being there and having the fear of people judging you for referring to yourself as one of the people who participated when you weren’t present physically.

The ending of this book is ambiguous and that’s where the beauty lies. A story was told and its up to the reader to decide what will happen in the end. Yes there were times I wanted more answers, but Delijani’s writing leaves you in a state of contentment over the answers that are provided to us.

There are many positives to take away from this book, but there are things that kept me from completely enjoying this book. Mainly it was the multitudes of alternative perspectives along with the time shifts. It felt disjointed and therefore sometimes it would be frustrating because there would be references to other incidents which took place in the book and as a reader I was trying to remember what the character was talking about. Maybe it was just me, but I think another reason I didn’t enjoy this book as much was because I read it in ereader format. I think if I had a hard copy I would easily have been able to flip back and forth between stories to pick up information in order better understand the character’s story I was reading about.

Overall Children of the Jacaranda Tree is was a great and poignant read for me. It was a reminder of the freedom we sometimes take for granted, it was about life and the heartbreak that comes with it. Sarah Delijani’s debut novel is bound to resonate with readers everywhere for its beautiful prose and construction of a country that was supposed to be so much more in the eyes of its people.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Would I recommend it? Yes

You can read my interview with Sahar Delijani here.

Children of the Jacaranda Tree is published by Atria Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. It will be released on June 18, 2013. This Advanced Reader Copy was obtained from Netgalley. Thank You Netgalley for providing this copy in exchange for an honest review.

Graphic Novel Review: The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder

Batman, Vol. 1: The Court of Owls - Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion

"Beware the Court of Owls, that watches all the time, ruling Gotham from a shadowed perch, behind granite and lime. They watch you at your hearth, they watch you in your bed, speak not a whispered word of them, or they’ll send the Talon for your head."

Court of Owls Nursery Rhyme

 

Cover Gushing Worthiness: In all honesty I may not have picked up The Court of Owls based on the cover alone. I think the title would have played a part in it. However this one is not a favourite cover of mine. Sure it does do the job of relating to the observer what the story is going to be like, but it doesn't do it for me for some reason. Don’t be fooled by the cover though, the story more than makes up for it!

 

Just a heads up-I read this graphic novel last year, so my memory on it might be a little fuzzy. I do apologize for it in advance!

 

Ever since the DC Revamp happened I had been out of touch with the characters I follow from the DC Universe. Last summer I went with my brother to our local comic bookstore (which is owned by an old Alumni from our High School :) ) and he recommended it to us. Needless to say I was blown away by this graphic novel and it’s pretty obvious that Scott Snyder can easily rival both Grant Morrison and Jeph Loeb when it comes to writing the stories of the world’s greatest detective.

 

If I could use one word to describe The Court of Owls it is haunting. Even when you read the nursery rhyme you feel chilly; as if you’re waiting for one of the owls to come and attack you. Scott Snyder’s writing is brilliant in that way because he plants an idea in your read about the court that doesn’t leave you, even after you’re finished with the book. Instead the eeriness of the court stays with you well into reading both City of Owls and Night of Owls.

 

What I liked about this story in comparison to some of the other Batman comics I’ve read is the exploration of not only the Wayne Family’s past which is sad and mysterious, but also Gotham City’s past which is dark and rich in its tales of those running the city behind the curtains of power. This may sound like a rather unoriginal idea to some, but it’s not so much the idea that you give Scott Snyder credit for, rather its the way he weaves the storyline to grip the reader’s attention where you can’t wait to turn the page and wondering what’s going to happen.  The plot twists were so well done in this story. The elements Snyder took from not only Bruce Wayne’s family but also Dick Grayson’s were excellently threaded which left you with a feeling of disbelief. The ending of course was a cliffhanger in the best possible way because you couldn’t wait to get your hands on City of Owls.

 

Character wise Bruce Wayne is amazing as always. I thought this saga pushed him to lengths where we’ve never seen Bruce go before. His relentless pursuing of the court was exciting and thrilling and left you wondering how much more the great detective could handle. The relationship tension between Bruce and Dick was also great and as readers we know that they’ve had fallouts in the past, but what makes this storyline touching in a way is that Dick will always be a son to Bruce. Bruce will always protect his own no matter what. Alfred is present as always and what’s not to like about the British Butler with an incredibly sarcastic and dry sense of humour? However the best thing about the story line is the organization of the Court of Owls. The Court is a very dark entity and I think that’s what makes them so interesting. I don’t think we’ve ever come across such an organization that could exist in Gotham that has no connection with the other villains that roam the city streets. Plus their connections to a certain DC Universe member what blew me away.

 

Overall The Court of Owls is one of the best Batman Graphic Novels I’ve read. It has all the right ingredients to keep the reader interested and invested in the plot and characters. Scott Snyder has created a gem when it comes to stories of the Dark Knight and I can’t wait to read his future work.

 

My Rating: 5/5

Would I recommend it? Absolutely

Book Review: The Flute Player by Shawn Mihalik

The Flute Player - Shawn Mihalik

Cover Gushing Worthiness: Even though the Beetle on the cover makes sense, I don't like it. I think this novella deserves a better cover because there’s much that can be captured about the world of Drommar. I do hope another edition of this book will have a different cover.

Review: Prior to reading The Flute Player I had never heard of it. I’m not really someone who reads Novellas, but I wanted to read this one after the publisher contacted me and gave me the synopsis of it. I’m so glad that I did because I enjoyed it immensely.

As I started to read this book, it reminded me so much of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust; a book that I was quite disappointed with. That being said, it is quite obvious from the Neil Gaiman quote at the beginning of The Flute Player that Shawn Mihalik is a massive Gaiman fan. In my opinion this novella is much better than Stardust.

First off I will say that those who didn't enjoy Stardust will most likely find a better story in The Flute Player. The plot is enjoyable and the pacing of the book is smooth and steady. I found myself in a state of inability to put the book down because I wanted to know what happens next. Without giving too much away I can say that I liked both worlds; Drommar and the other world Mihalik created. The landscape of Drommar is beautiful and I found the time period Mihalik chose for his other world interesting. Of course I appreciated the lack of romance and cookie cutter ending in this story. Instead of a romance, which would be present if this was another YA Novella or Novel , The Flute Player presents us with a boy and girl who are helping each other to find happiness in their realities for their own sake and sanity. Another aspect that I really liked in this story was the use of music. As an unofficial band geek, I know the power and emotion music can bring not only to an individual, but also to the greater community and I think the author captures the essence of music in this novel perfectly. I appreciated the importance of the Flute player’s presence in the community and not to sound cliché, but it showed that one person can make a difference in the lives of people.

Oliver and Alexandria are both great characters. There isn't a great deal of dialogue between the two, but they had some beautiful moments together. It was like they understood each other within the silence. I think it’s quite hard to convey that kind of understanding in literature and I thought Mihalik did a great job with it. Oliver in his own way represented what so many of want our lives to be: inspirational, meaningful and filled with human connections that matter. His strength in character came across during his confrontations with his father, an elder in the Village council and a position he earned thanks to Oliver being the flute player. Oliver’s strength in character was another indication that people must live their own lives that are not governed by other people’s terms. They must do what is best for themselves. In comparison to Oliver, Alexandria does not get much development which is understandable since this is a novella. She was not a flat character by any means, but I wish we could have gotten to know her a bit better. If not in Drommar,then in her own world.

I did wish this story would have gone on for longer because I enjoyed it so much. Nevertheless I do think that if Mihalik wanted to continue writing in YA Fantasy, Drommar is a great world to build future stories.

Overall I really enjoyed The Flute Player. As a Novella reading novice, I’m glad that I was given the opportunity to read and review this book. I found the world and the characters to be great and I enjoyed the storyline a lot. I’m looking forward to seeing what Mihalik comes up with next in his journey as a writer.

My Rating: 4/5

Would I recommend it? Yes

The Flute Player is published by Asymmetrical Press and is available for purchase in e-book format. A copy of this Novella was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank You Asymmetrical Press.

Book Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - Jesse Andrews

Cover Gushing Worthiness:I simply adore the cover of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. The illustrations, the typography and the colours give off a fun and endearing quality to the book. It’s an awesome cover for a new favourite book.

Review :

You may have already figured out that it’s about a girl who had cancer. So there’s a chance you're thinking “Awesome! This is going to be a wise and insightful story about love and death and growing up. It is probably going to make cry literally the entire time. I am so fired up right now.” If that is an accurate representation of your thoughts, you should probably try to smush this book into garbage disposal and then run away. Because here’s the thing: I learned absolutely nothing from Rachel’s leukemia. In fact, I probably became stupider about life because of the whole thing.



If you're planning on reading this book thinking that it’s going to be like John Green’s The Fault in our Stars, then you might be setting yourself up for disappointment. Like Greg says, this book is anything but TFioS esque. I first heard about this book from Stacey over at Pretty Books and then I watched Raeleen's Video about the book. In the end I decided to buy it and I’m so happy I did because its amazing!

Narrated by Greg S. Gaines, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl follows Greg, a senior in High School who is happy to be invisible in High School, Earl who is his “co-worker” and they create movies together. Rachel, a girl from Greg’s High School and Hebrew School when he’ was younger has been diagnosed with Leukemia. Greg is then forced to spend time with her. Throughout the book we’re open to Greg’s thoughts about everything and anything about his whole experience.

Plot wise I really enjoyed this story. I loved it for its honesty and humour, despite it being so crude. It is not a book that forces you to feel sorry for Rachel. While Rachel is the character in the centre because Greg is talking about his experiences in relation to Leukemia, the story is very much Greg’s since we see how he is constantly battling with himself over his feelings towards Rachel’s illness. While A Monster Calls left me in a state of constant tears, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl moved me in its realistic portrayal towards some deaths we encounter in our lives. Not all the time are people going to be moved by deaths during certain moments of life, yet there are those moments that death profoundly moves people in ways that were unexpected. I think that’s one of the main strengths of this novel; its ability to portray the different stages in life where death truly has an impact on you,especially in the life of a teenager. Apart from its realistic look at cancer and death, what makes this book successful and appealing is its humor. I admit that sometimes the humor is so random and disgusting to the point where you it makes you go “WHAT?!” and of course there’s a multitude of swearing going on, which might turn off some readers. I’m not someone who is fond of swearing and I personally try my best not to swear if possible, however without the swearing this book would lose its magic because it’s so much a part of Greg and Earl’s characters. Almost every page had cuss words, often appearing more than five times, but it made you laugh so much. I will say that the humor is very much teenage boy humor where there’s constant references to breasts and other genital areas, but like I said it makes you go “WHAT” and you'll most likely find yourself laughing so hard and trying to figure out a way to stop. I was a little surprised and disappointed at the end, but I understood it because it was another indication that even in the smallest ways death has a way of changing a person, even though they may stubbornly say that it did not. Another element that I really liked in this book was how the story was written at times using script format. It made perfect sense since Greg loves making movies. The typography and the titles for the chapters too were great and ridiculous.

I adore both Greg and Earl as characters. Greg is such a weird, honest and endearing narrator. He had me laughing from start to finish because of the things he says. I’ve talked about the honesty in this book a lot and it’s what makes Greg such a great narrator. He leaves no stone unturned in his experience. He tells you the truth; the awkwardness he feels around Rachel at times, the lack of emotion he feels towards Rachel and Leukemia, his fear and confusion; everything is laid out in front of the reader. As a reader you do empathize with Greg because of the honesty he shows, despite his constant rantings about how horrible this book is and how he has no clue why he keeps on writing it. One of the passages that has stayed with me, not because it’s profoundly moving or anything , but because it made me raise my eyebrows a little bit.

Marla Weissman Gaines is very Jewish. She is the executive director of Ahvat Ha’Emet, a nonprofit that sends Jewish teenagers to Israel to work on a kibbutz and lose their virginity. I should point out that the virginity-losing part is not technically in the mission statement of Ahavat Ha’Emet. I’m just saying, you do not leave Israel without getting laid. You could have an eight-inch-thick titanium diaper bolted to your pelivs, and you would still somehow get laid. It should be their official tourism slogan: Israel. Where Virginity Goes to Die. 

Israelis get it on.



Greg was also believable because he is so flawed as a character. There are times when even you think “can’t you have at least a little sympathy”, but his character development is so well done. You see him go through different stages in his experience with Rachel and with Earl and they’re moving and hilarious all at the same time. Sure you do want to dislike him at times, but surprisingly as a reader I didn’t want him to change. He set the tone in the beginning of the book that he didn’t change. I personally think he did change, he just wasn’t aware of it.

Where do I even start with Earl. Earl is in a constant state of pissed off which has varying levels depending on the scenario. Out of the two Earl is definitely the one with more of a crude sense of humor and he constantly reminded me of one of those gifs which has the saying “ain’t nobody got time for that.” Yet the funny thing is that in comparison to Greg, Earl actually cares. I wish we got to see his character develop more because towards the halfway point of the book it did feel like Earl took a backseat, but there are somethings that he said that me laugh and tell my brother. One of the things that he says is about Rachel when she goes for Chemotherapy and it made me have a “WHAT” moment.

oh i went to see your girl again
she got a bald-a** head right now
she look like darth vader without the helmet
chemo is no joke son.



Yes Earl really does say things that are disgusting and may make some wonder what is going on in the minds of teenage boys (I think we've all wondered that at some point), but he says some things that are profound. That you wouldn't expect him of all people to say. One of the things he says is

You don’t know s*** man. I hate to get on you for this. I’m not getting on you for this, but I’m just telling you. This is the first…negative thing that has happened to you in your life. And you can’t be overreacting to it and making big-ass expensive decisions based on it. I’m just saying. People die. Other people do stupid s***. I’m surrounded by family members doing stupid s***. I used to think I had to do s*** for them. I still wanna do s*** for them. But you gotta live your own life. You gotta take care a your own s*** before you get started doing things for errybody else.”



When Earl talked about his own family I really felt for him, like I hadn’t in the beginning of the book. In the beginning it did feel like he was used for comedic purposes, but then it was like he had some “way of the force” moment and I think I began to understand him. It felt like making movies was his escape from his broken family life and once he realized that he owed it to himself to have a better life, he took matters into his own hands. I liked the unconventional friendship between Greg and Earl.

As for Rachel, she did feel like a secondary character despite Greg’s whole book revolving around her and his experience being friends with her. In all honesty I was indifferent towards her. She wasn't like Hazel from TFioS who I really did dislike. It wasn't that Rachel was a bad character, which she wasn't at all, but because she wasn't prominent it was difficult to come to terms with what you should feel for her. I think Rachel signified that not everyone could go to battle with cancer so to speak. There are some battles that you just can’t win and going for chemotherapy as well as stopping chemotherapy is very much a personal decision. In a way I admired her for her decisions because she was strong enough in her own way to accept death for what it is, instead of trying to fight it off which would cause her more pain and grief.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Me and Earl and the Dying Girl for its unique way of portraying Cancer. I was moved by Greg and Earl in a way I probably thought impossible for a book with such humour. I’m not sure if fans of TFioS would necessarily like it because of the humor and because of Greg, but I still encourage taking a chance on this book. Jesse Andrews did a fantastic job with his debut book and I can't wait to read his future works.

My Rating: 5/5

Would I recommend it? Absolutely

Book Review: Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

Indian Horse - Richard Wagamese

 

Cover Gushing Worthiness: The cover of Indian Horse truly captures the essence of this book. I think each image captures a specific point in Saul’s life. As you read the book, the cover starts to make more sense. It literally is so Canadian and in a good way(:.

Review: I first heard about Indian Horse when I was in the car with my dad listening to CBC Radio's Canada Reads Turf Wars.As I heard an excerpt from the book I knew I wanted to read it. Ever since I was in High School I’ve been interested in the rights and issues surrounding Canada’s First Nations people. Almost all the essays I've written in my High School and University Canadian history classes have been about First Nations people or Immigrants who have faced racism in this country. I've felt strongly about the plight of the First Nations people and I’m so glad Wagamese chose to explore one of the most brutal and appalling parts of Canada’s history because it is a story that needs to be told and heard by all.

The story of Indian Horse is Saul’s story from the Ojibway beginnings to his rediscovery of Hockey. In between is his painful story of losing his family and being taken to St. Jerome’s Residential school which is described as “Hell on earth.” It is also where Saul discovers a safe haven in Hockey, but at a painful price to his own identity. This year the only other book that stirred up so many emotions in me wasBefore I Fallby Lauren Oliver because it dealt with an issue which is very close to my heart, but this book intensified the very same emotions. My heart literally ached when I read some of the passages and it was painful to the point where I had to put the book down and take a deep breath and get back into it. I was so overwhelmed with emotion because of the injustice suffered by the First Nations People in a country which technically belongs to them. What makes me sad is that without stories like Indian Horse future generations will probably never know about the horrors of the Residential School system.

Another aspect of this book which stirred my interest was the way we define our relationship to sport. I don’t watch Hockey, so I’m not familiar with most of the events surrounding players. However I’m familiar with events that take place in the world of Football (Soccer) and last year the sport was plagued with so many issues in regards to racial abuse against players and other plays throwing around racial taunts. ReadingIndian Horse reminded me of those issues again, especially this passage when Saul who starts to play for a town hockey team composed of White children and when he goes for a game this is what is being said. It really makes you wonder if people still believe a game belongs to only one group of people.

What I’m the best they got.
I know. That’s why they don’t want you to play. The parents of other players want their kids to play.
They do play.
Yes. But they’re not on the ice as much as you are…
It’s because I’m Indian isn’t it?
Yes.
Do they hate me?
They don’t hate you, Saul.
Well, what then?
They think it’s their game
Is it?
It’s God’s game.


Saul’s voice in Indian Horse is beautiful and tragic. His narrative just flowed so smooth and eloquently. As a reader you rooted for Saul every step of the way. You experienced his highs, his lows, the injustice and the blatant racism. The most upsetting was his despair. What do you do when everything you know shatters into a million little pieces? The despair came a long because as a reader you wanted Saul to succeed so bad; there was almost a sense of desperation surrounding you as you flipped through Saul’s story. The most heart wrenching part for me during the whole story was when Saul relates his Residential School experience. Its hard sometimes to believe humanity is capable of such despicable acts. It just made you wonder how people can engage in behaviour just in order to destroy a culture of such an ancient people?

The environmental landscape Wagamese painted of Ontario was mesmerizing. The forests, lakes and rivers came alive in way that I had never experienced before. It showed how First Nations People were one in with nature and that to me was truly beautiful. It made you appreciate your surroundings in a way that I can’t really put into words properly.

I really wanted Indian Horse to win Canada Reads 2013 and I was disappointed when it didn’t, but I’m glad it won the People’s Choice poll.

Overall Indian Horse is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year and it has become one of my favourites. It’s a powerful story written beautifully. You will come to treasure Saul Indian Horse’s voice in this book and his brutal honestly in regards to his life. If anyone wants to understand how First Nations people have been treated in Canada, I strongly encourage you to pick up this book. I will definitely pick up other books by Wagamese for sure.

This is one of my favourite quotes from the book. It’s said by Saul’s Grandmother
We need mystery. Creator in her wisdom knew this. Mystery fills us with awe and wonder. They are the foundations of humility, and humility,and humility grandson, is the foundation of all learning.


My Rating: 5/5

Would I recommend it? A Thousand Times Yes

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

Love and Other Perishable Items - Laura Buzo

Cover Gushing Worthiness: The cover for Love and Other Perishable Items is probably one of my favourite covers of the year. It’s quite adorable and the cover makes sense as you read the book. I do think the Australian Cover Good Oil is also a good one. Sure it is a bit corny, but it’s not corny to the point where I wouldn't pick it up.

 

Review: I first heard about LaOPI from my friend Keertana over at Ivy Book Bindings who read the Australian version Good Oil. According Koalanet.com Good Oil is Australian Slang useful information, a good idea and the truth. I’m still trying to wrap my head around all those definitions for Good Oil and how it relates to the book, but I do admit that I may not have bought the book under the Australian title, simply because I would have no idea about its meaning. That being said I really do like the North American title. There’s something refreshing and original about it, especially being a YA book. I feel like the title is one that would be used for an adult fiction book, but it works well for this story. Before you make any judgments about the cover or the title of the book, I really ask you to take a moment and read the book before you form your opinions.

After I finished reading Lover and Other Perishable Items I was left speechless. I even told Keertana that I was trying to form coherent thoughts about my opinion of the book. In the end I did realize that the reason I couldn’t gather my thoughts was because I didn’t have any book to compare LaOPI to. Not that the plot is original, rather it is because the execution of the story is so well done in how it addresses the realities of life. I think at some point in our lives we’re all familiar with the feelings one experiences with the dreaded unrequited love. The portrayal of such a situation in a remarkably realistic way is what has garnered so much praise for this book.

Set in Sydney Australia, Love and Other Perishable Items follows the story of fifteen year-old Amelia, a girl who has recently gotten a job at Coles- a large chain Grocery store. At the store Amelia meets and befriends Chris Harvey, a twenty-one (soon to be twenty-two) University student and that’s how the story begins to unfold.

Before throwing your hands up in exasperation about the plot and screaming out “Corny!”I can honestly say the story is told realistically. There aren’t a lot of stereotypes in this book. Amelia’s narration captures the feelings of frustration, anxiety,fear, self-consciousness all at once. Her descriptions of the stagnation that can occupy everyday life is another quality that makes this book so wonderful.While Amelia is the main narrator of the story, we also get to hear Chris’ voice via his diary entries. I have to say that I preferred Chris’ voice a tad bit more than Amelia’s simply because he’s closer to my age and I found that I could relate to him much more than I could to Amelia. The novel moves at a slow and steady pace allowing character development for both Amelia and Chris. I liked the fact that the ending was not your typical YA cliché ending, instead it was an honest look at how people are so different from when they were 15 and when they are 22.

Amelia was an easily likable character for me. She wasn't necessarily your typical teenage girl. She was incredibly passionate in her opinions of Great Expectationsand Feminism. A part of me felt like she had almost shouldered the burden of her mother’s seeming unhappiness. She somewhat did remind me of my younger self when I was her age, but what made her so great was she understood reality. Yes she wished that there was an alternate reality where she could have a chance with Chris, but she accepted things the way they are. Once in a while it’s nice to see a teenager character who isn't in over her head. You might argue that she actually is because she likes a 21 year-old. Well we've all been there, but it’s not as if we've dropped everything for that crush now have we? Amelia’s growth as a character is one of the great things about this book. She grows into her own by the end and it was great to see her understand the world a bit better. It wasn't that she had an epiphany about life, but the experiences she grows through mould her understanding and she starts to appreciate the things she has in her life, instead of constantly pining over what she doesn't have/cannot have.

Chris Harvey has gone on to be one of my favourite male YA characters. I loved his voice. I loved the fact that he was a Liberal Arts Major like myself. I think I liked Chris so much because he goes through the exact same thing I am. He has t he same questions as I do “what am I going to do in life with my degree?” “How am I going to pay off student debt?” or “Am I going to make a difference in life?” These are also scary questions once you graduate university. Chris was so real in my opinion. He could have been any university student because we all struggle with life questions by the time senior year rolls around. Another thing that made him real was his pining over Michaela-his ex girlfriend. It was as if he just couldn't/didn’t know how to let go. I believed his struggle to find the “perfect woman” as well as trying to figure out life as best as he can. He was a character with a lot of charisma and personality. Chris’ humour too was something that I appreciated. It was sarcastic and witty all at the same time.

Of course the main element in this book is Amelia’s and Chris’ relationship. The realism of their relationship is something that stands out in comparison to other YA books. Their exchanges were thought-provoking, funny, interesting and most of all believable. They made each other see the world in a different way. A way that they may never have thought about before. I don't think I can talk about it more without giving too much away. So do read the book!

As far as secondary characters go, there isn't a lot of development, but they all play an important part. I have to put my hands up say that I disliked Chris’ ex-girlfriend Michaela immensely. She was such a mean person and I was wondering if Chris lost his head somewhere because I could not understand what he saw in her and how she could treat him the way he did. He is better off without her in my opinion. However there is a lot of learning occurring in this book thanks to the secondary characters. I really liked Amelia’s little sister Jess. She was such a cute kid. The relationship between Amelia and her best friend Penny was another highlight for me in the book. It was a good portrayal of how dynamics can change when the opposite sex becomes an issue.

My one pet peeve in the book is that it did play on the stereotype of South Asian people always going into the science fields and that irked me a bit. I’m of a South Asian background and a Liberal Arts Major. Sciences and Math are not my strong suit. It bothered me that Chris’ friend Rohan was portrayed as a stereotypical smart kid with rich parents who took care of everything for him. Maybe there are parents like that and there are smart South Asian Engineers, but just for the record, not all of us go into sciences or Law. We do go into other fields of study besides those.

Overall Love and Other Perishable Items was a great read for me. It’s unlike any other contemporary YA book I've read so far and I’m glad that I gave it a shot. More than the plot, it’s the characters that make this story believable and relatable. It won't be everyone’s favourite YA book, but I’d encourage people to give it a chance.

My Rating: 4.5./5

Would I recommend it? Yes

Heist Society by Ally Carter (Heist Society # 1)

Heist Society - Ally Carter


Cover Gushing Worthiness: 
I really like the cover of the hardcover version of Heist Society which is pictured on the left. I like it because there’s a mischievous element to it. Plus the painting that is reflected off Kat’s sunglasses is really cool. Personally I don’t like the cover of the paperback edition. The girl doesn’t even remotely resemble Kat or at least what I pictured Kat to be like in my head. My only guess is that the girl in the cover could be Gabrielle- Kat’s cousin.

 

Review: 

If someone told me that purchasing Heist Society in hardcover for only $4.99 was a bargain, I would be inclined to agree with them. After all the covers of the series are all fun and glamorous in their own way. However after reading the book it is clear that Heist Society was neither worth my time or money. This book was overhyped and it was disappointing.

 

After reading the synopsis I was sold. How could I not be sold when there’s globe-trotting, a young girl who comes from a family of thieves, a gorgeous rich best friend and a great secondary cast. It has the makings of a perfect Heist society. Apparently in my case it is quite possible to be conned by a synopsis. This book was 57% of nothing happening, 5 chapters of a poorly written Heist that was confusing to follow and bland characters. It disappoints to say all of this because this story had so much potential to be exceedingly better than what it was. The plot could have been better and more fast paced, the characters could have been developed better and the love triangle could have been excluded.

 

In regards to the plot, I kept on asking myself if there was one to begin with because there was a lot of globe-trotting and instead of any actual doing in order to move the story forward. The story moves at a snail’s pace and just when you think that something is going to happen, it reverts back to “nothing’s happening mode.” As I was reading the book  I became aware that the story was becoming a lot like the first St.Trinian’s movie which I highly recommend  because it’s so much better than Heist SocietyKat could have easily been Annabel Fritton, Gabrielle could have been Kelly Jones, Simon could have been Penny and the Bagshaws were essentially the twins from St.Trinian’s.  The Museum Heist, well… that’s in St.Trinian’s too and for similar reasons as Kat has to rob the museum. There’s one part in the book where the Bagshaws are creating an explosion at Hale’s mansion and the same thing happens in St.Trinian’s. It really was difficult to ignore the similarities. As for the heist itself: it was rushed, confusing and poorly written. I went back to re-read the chapters and I still didn’t understand what exactly happened. The love triangle too was completely unnecessary. It was obvious from the start that the second love interest was only there to cause some drama between Kat and Hale. As for the ending, well by the end I didn’t care anymore and would have happily chucked the book across my room.

 

As for the characters, Ally Carter didn’t give me any good reasons as to why I should root for them in the first place. I was indifferent towards Kat. She didn’t really do anything in the book. Half the time it seemed like she spent her time whining and feeling sorry for herself and she expected you as a reader to feel sympathy for her. She didn’t have any qualities that made her stand out in my eyes. She just existed within the book without doing anything. More than Kat I was so disappointed in Hale. I expected to swoon over him, but was boring  like Kat. I honestly didn’t even care what his initials stood for and that seems to be a big mystery in the series. As for as the secondary characters went I was amused by the Bagshaws and Marcus. Marcus was one of the only redeemable elements in this book. I liked his character- he was like Alfred, except much less cooler of course.  Nick the love interest….well we all know why he was there. Just to spite Hale I wanted Kat and Nick to have more flirtatious conversations, sadly that never manifested.

 

The other redeemable feature in this book were the illustrations of the maps on the pages which had the countdown towards the deadline for the Heist. Those were really pretty and that’s where my love for the book ends.

 

Overall Heist Society has probably been the biggest letdown for the year so far. The characters were flat, the plot failed in its execution and the writing was choppy. I’m disappointed that I didn’t like this book more because I really wanted to like it. I think the only reason I did continue to read this book was because Lottie from Book Adoration and I read it as part of a read-along. You can read her review for the book here.

 

My Rating:1/5

 

Would I recommend it? No